Potential Risks and Side Effects of Liposuction

For those who are trying to get rid of cellulite or excessive body fat, liposuction has become one of the most common options. The cosmetic surgery is available just about everywhere in the world, and is surprisingly affordable. This means more and more people are availing themselves of what could be a potentially dangerous procedure.

What is liposuction? How does it work?

The traditional technique of liposuction was performed by inserting a cannula, or tube, into an incision under the skin. The cannula has a vacuum appliance attached to it. The plastic surgeon proceeds to push and pull the cannula through the fat layers under the skin, breaking down the fat cells and extracting them.

More often now, surgeons inject a small amount of liquid into the area before they insert the cannula. This liquid contains an anesthetic, epinephrine to reduce bleeding, and a saline solution to make the fat more like our body fluids. This loosens the fat and also minimizes bruising and other complications.

Some surgeons use a technique known as tumescent or swollen liposuction, which is similar to the basic procedure mentioned above, except that a larger amount of liquid is injected into the area. The larger amount of liquid gives the surgeon more room to remove the fat, further reducing bruising.

Side effects and potential risks of liposuction

As with any invasive surgical procedure, there are potential side effects and risks involved with liposuction.

Note: The side effects may not occur with every surgery. In fact, many of the side effects are uncommon or rare. However, it's important that you understand what the potential risks of the procedure are.

The most common side effects of liposuction include:

-          Bruising -- There is always damage to the capillaries (tiny blood vessels) beneath the skin during the procedure. Bruises form as a result of this damage to the blood vessels.

-          Pain -- The procedure itself is performed under anesthetic, but the damage to the blood vessels under the skin can be painful.

-          Swelling -- Swelling is your body's natural response to damage, and the liposuction is technically "damaging" the layer of fat beneath your skin.

-          Scarring -- There will usually be very minimal scarring, mostly in the areas where the needle was injected. However, there is a risk of more severe scars developing if the body doesn't heal properly.

-          Numbness -- The surgery may damage the nerve endings beneath the skin, temporarily causing numbness. In some cases, the numbness can be permanent. Temporary irritation of the nerves is another side effect of the surgery.

These are the common side effects, but there are a few less-common risks you need to be aware of:

-          Seromas -- These are temporary pockets of fluid that can develop beneath the skin. They need to be drained regularly until your body can deal with them.

-          Infection -- Skin infections may be rare after liposuction, but if you're not careful, they can be dangerous, even potentially life-threatening.

-          Irregularities -- If the fat was removed unevenly or the skin doesn't heal properly, there is a risk of your skin withering or forming waves or bumps. In some cases, the irregularities may be permanent. Skin spots may form as a result of the damage done beneath your skin by the cannula.

-          Internal puncture -- In some rare cases, the cannula is inserted too far and may puncture an organ. This may require surgery to repair, and leads to a longer recovery time.

-          Kidney and heart problems -- During the surgery, fluids are being injected into and drained from your body at the same time. This can cause problems with both your kidneys and your heart, and may even be potentially life-threatening.

-          Fat embolism -- If a piece of loosened fat breaks away and isn't suctioned out, it may gather in your lungs or a blood vessel, or even travel to your brain. It can cause strokes and heart attacks, and this is a medical emergency.

-          Allergic reaction -- Going under anesthetic can be dangerous, but especially for the people who are allergic to it. It's estimated that 1 in every 1,250 to 10,000 people are allergic to anesthetic.

-          Burns -- When the cannula rubs against your skin or nerves, the friction may cause burns ranging from minor to severe.

-          Skin necrosis -- If the skin is cut off from blood supply, there is a risk that the skin cells will die off (necrosis).

Liposuction is not a remedy for being overweight. It should only be considered when every step has been taken to lose excess fat throughhealthy diet and exercise! The decision to have liposuction is an important one, and all considerations for risks should be taken into account. The best person to consult is a reputable plastic surgeon. Ask any and every question and express every concern. Always get a second opinion!

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